WRITING – POETRY – ART?

Book CaseDo not holler yet, please? But, do think about how poetry can assist you in some of your writing struggles. Enter the scenes in your head. No thanks, I write books – I am not a rhyming person – poetry is fluff – I write erotica – poetry is for old people who want to look backwards – poetry, I don’t think so.

There are more excuses about poetry, but before we stick our heads in the sand, we should examine why poetry can, could and does help our writing. How long ago did you pick up a book of poetry and read? Some of our best poets suffered from illnesses, sometimes not mentioned. Sylvia Plath, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Virginia Wolf, and William Shakespeare had addictions, depressions, mental issues and their works of poetry show their true feelings and desperation. One poem I love was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Her words came from a time , not yet established in her life, she wrote for the future. One particular poem, Solitude begins, “Laugh and the word laughs with you. Weep and you weep alonge.” This is a wide read poem, even today.

Look at some of your favorite poets and read their works. Picture yourself searching for words to fit your expressions. Do not we, as writers, do the same for our works. Of course, and sometimes we use the first word we can conjure. If you are having a bad day at writing, what is one of the things you can do? Return to one of your favorite quotes, or something posted at your computer or on the wall. Reading will help your vision get back on track.

Wanting to write and giving yourself permission to do this are the same for every writer, and the genre does not matter. Remember, there is not bad writing only the first efforts and many revisions create good writing.

Here are a few actions to help yourself feel great about writing and sticking to it every day:

*  Do not judge anything you write as great or a failure

*  Keep Writing

*  Don’t whine about time or energy needed to write. Just write, write, and write.

*  Keep telling yourself you are a writer.

*  Learn more about the craft.

*  Keep paper and pen with you at all times.

*  Jot down sayings you see on cars. What about road signs? They always have mishaps.

*  What about a song on the radio? The music, the beat, the sadness might fit into your next stanza or paragraph.

Another area writers might look into is art. How long has it been since you went to an art gallery or a photography exhibit? The next time you see one advertised, go, study the artists view or the photographer’s camera angle.

Sometimes the blank page is huge and we need to create words and phrases, the same and we need to create words and phrases, just as a paint brush needs to create color, and the camera different angles or the poet a feeling to draw the reader into the depths of a soul.

You are a writer and you must make the choice to write every day. No matter the genre, you write and write and write. The words flow on the pages you write and you watch your dream take shape.

You write because you are a writer.

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DOWN WITH BOREDOM

Great ImageI can’t get past this drooling period. I think I’m depressed.

As a writer, do you ever experience boredom in your work? You work hard on one scene, but still feel like dullsville in the rest of the story. Did some of this boredom set in with your character(s)?

Stop and go back to the beginning of your story. Read and read again and again. Look at the point of view. Is the third person right for your story or should you try first person? This is simple. Read your story in the different points of view. Does this change energize you, your story and your character(s)? If not, stay on your track.

Names are another challenge with boredom. Do the names of characters fit their personalities of images. Check out the period, locale, age, city, country, and genre. All of these play an important part in your character’s names. Does Susie look and feel more like a Suzanne? Maybe your Charles should take on a more modern name like Todd. There are just a few examples of where to check on your boredom.

Go back to your verbs. Make them active without adverbs. Active verbs add spice and action to your story. Check out all the adjectives. If you have a few, look at your nouns and see of they show the reader and not tell.

Do some of your character’s physical attributes read incomplete? Does the reader know their life’s history? You might find you went overboard on a character’s background or forgot to include something that would increase tension in a scene. Intellectual and emotional characters strike up the curiosity of a reader. Can your characters make the reader feel their heartbeats race, feel anger or fear? Or what about places where your reader would laugh, and then can’t stop crying?

Writing is power. Your writing should create little dramas, which occur in a definite time and place and your reader will know something important is at stake. You are pushing your story with the best creativity you can give your reader.

Now, put your manuscript away for a few days. Forget about boredom and do something fun. When you pick up your story, your passion will be back in full swing. You’ll know what to fix, if any thing needs fixing.

Down with boredom.

WRITING RETREAT OF SELF-EDITING

pen and inkWe have had four different places for writing retreats, each representing the writer and their interests. Now, let’s put the emphasis of these retreats into creating our best work. Yes, this involves self-editing. So, put on your coat of armor and get ready to fight for or against your choice of words.

You have finished your first draft and cannot wait to send this out to publishers and agents. STOP. This is your first draft and I bet you have not read from page one to the end with a red pen in your hand. Some writers revise their work on the computer and do a fantastic job. For me, I want to hold the manuscript in my hands, sit in a quiet corner or a noisy coffee shop, and use the red pen to strike out words, sentences, paragraphs or even chapters. OUCH. Sometimes you find silly mistakes and wonder how those ideas or thoughts got on the page. You do not remember hitting the keys.

YES, you will revise and revise and revise; but the time will come when you have done all the hard work and hand your ‘baby’ over to another writer for his or her comments. Then you will see your work through their eyes. Maybe you will make more changes or keep what you have changed. You must be the decision maker of your writing to give a reader the best book.

How often do you go overboard on descriptions, scenes, and information, which does not advance your story. Think of these things as seasoning for your story. Just like in cooking, when too much red pepper dominates the soup, and you have to add more broth or water to dilute the taste. So, do not plug up your story with too many unnecessary words. Adverbs and Adjectives are the seasonings you need to leave in the cupboard, so to speak. A noun should be able to say what you want without the use of an adjective. You need a verb strong enough to stand alone.

Keep up with writing courses. Learn new methods. Hone your craft. Do you ever use writing prompts? No?  Why not? These small daily practices keep your mind and creativity sharp. Play around and try out different answers to the same writing prompt. Look through writing magazines and ask other writers which ones they suggest.

Learn from revising, implement new strategies to your writing, get with other writers for a brainstorming period, and pay attention to all criticism of your work. You can only improve and improve. Isn’t this what writers want? A great book.

Have fun with your writing, and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. You’ll be a better writer.

WRITING RETREAT IN THE GLASS CAGE

unicorn danceThe doorbell chimed and I led the other three writers out the back door to our remodeled back porch. We replaced the outdoor screens with windows, installed a fireplace for cool days of fall, cold days of winter and a waterfall for spring and summer. What shocked them, was a glass cage attached in a corner. Inside was a table, small desk, bookshelves, and all the amenities of the whole porch without intrusion.

“Ladies, welcome to my glass cage. I can see everything and hear nothing. I can be in tune with nature and all of her seasons. Before you leave, you will see the twilight turn into darkness and watch stars sparkle. We all have something different, which represents our writing too. Have you heard from the mystery ladies?”

Heads shook.

“Well, let’s get started. Each one will read their allotted pages and stop. Then say nothing until all of us make our comments or suggestions. Then the writer can address our points.Fair to all of us.”

The evening moved at a fast pace and each writer got good comments and many laughs went around the small table.

“Since this is spring, our treat will be Angle Food Cake with a yogurt topping of your choice; both small in calories.”

‘Hey, we need to let our minds run free and encourage our brains to work better,” one of the group spoke. “We write for our stories and use our imagination, but we have to plot, form, and follow. What if one of us picks a topic and then all of us write whatever comes into our minds.”

Raised eyebrows came, but pens and notebooks began to fill the table.

“The topic for this evening is ‘what wakes you up at 3 a.m.’ Be creative.We have ten minutes and then we read.”

The evening ended in giggles, smiles, laughter, and  whole lot of positive thoughts.

“Guess we are back to Paris next week and maybe our new friends will be with us. They might get a jolt at the way we are improving our retreats.”

As they started to leave, the promised stars shone into the Glass Cage.

“Good Night.”

A BASEMENT WRITING RETREAT

critique partnersI guess I’m a little behind times. I have not been across the world, or in Paris. In fact, I have not been outside of the United States, but I do have memories.

We own an old home with detours, unknown stairs, almost like a dungeon without the danger. My writing retreat started before anyone in our group thought about a get-together. I’ve been going to the basement for a long time. This gave me space and quiet for all my writing. Yet, I missed other writers and input.

When the two friends showed up without an invite, I thought this was an omen for all of us. These ladies didn’t give an explanation of where they came from, but just showed up when we needed them.

Strange? Not at all. We are writers and can conjure up our characters anytime we want. Sometimes they are what we need and other times what we least expect. I felt  comfortable with these “real” characters in our circle and knew we had a lot to learn.

Everyone came on the stated date, except the two friends. We missed them, but had no idea where to look or call. So, I took our group down the stairs to my basement. I did hear a few intakes of breaths, but this happens on the trip down. “This, my writer friends, is my writing retreat.”

“My husband decided I should have a quiet space to write and not hear all the complaints from him or our kids. He supported me. Look around and you will not see pictures or events from foreign lands, but all these pictures are from our trips to the Colorado mountains. We made these a part of our family trips.” Everyone stared at the enormous black and white photos. Her whole family surrounded the space in breathtaking shots.

“I’m not certain where the two ladies came from, but I hope they return. I have created a cave-like of appearance with the Colorado Rockies in full view. Now, when we begin to read, maybe we will have more questions. I like the idea of reading and responding. I want to get your viewpoints and then make up my own mind if they fit. We’ve known each other for a long time, and maybe these other friends can give us so new feedback, when they return.”

Two hours passed with new thoughts, ideas, and great questions. “Now for the snacks. Please enjoy some mountain trout on crackers, cold salmon and some Absolute in a glass with ice from a mountain stream. Enjoy.”

“Hey, ladies of our imagination and new insights, any suggestions for my turn next week?”

“Surprise us.”

May all of you have expectations and your writing improve with unknown happenings.